Date:  Nov 17, 2013
Title: Neverwonder: Gotta Wonder...
Band:  Neverwonder
Venue:  Paris - On the Strip
Place:  Las Vegas, NV
Author: T. Ray Verteramo
Editor: Aaron Hulse
Posted:  Nov 18, 2013
 
 

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A glorious day on the Strip. 

Perfect weather, the Fountains of Bellagio shooting, dancing, and spurting in the background while a parade of Let’s-Make-a-Deal-looking contestants of cross-dressers, Elvis impersonators, jesters, slutty brides, a Wonder Woman with sensible clothing for the occasion, and a handful of bouncing ballerinas run rhythmically by in the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon to the energetic pulse of Neverwonder. Though no doubt the choice of entertainment may have been a perfect fit for the occasion, it was a little bit of a wonder if the occasion wasn’t so much of a good fit for them. 

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Now, to be perfectly fair, everyone knows that Vegas is no issue for any artist. Find a corner, venue, street, mode of transportation or a urinal and you’ll find an audience and somebody to love you -- that’s a part of what makes it so fabulous! But, I am not so much talking about the great city, itself, but rather this very particular time and venue. Neverwonder may look like an undersigned act, work themselves like an undersigned act, but sure as hell don’t sound like one. Alima Soul, Neverwonder delivers a strong, solid song with an honest, home-grown humanity and passion without glitz or grits.

With this, I genuinely believe that the decent-sized gathering that they attracted on their own may have lost out on experiencing their full range simply because of the event.  

I mean, one doesn’t start cryin’ the blues to jogging tutus, you know? (Though they certainly have the chops to pull it off.)

But, they kept it classy and upbeat with consummate professional integrity, staying appropriately upbeat but without compromising their signature. With a straight-up demonstrative vocal delivery like Soul’s, a rock-heavy rhythm section without the fluff is absolutely necessary and the two Ramoses, Vincent (bass) and Andres (drums), sufficiently delivers. The brothers’ seamless transitions and pendulic timing proved a nice foundation for Ted Mentry’s light touch on the fretboard. Though the latter may looked like someone had interrupted his quiet retirement from playing an extra on “Barney Miller,” the talent is unquestionable. Not just talent in regards to their instruments, but with their bold set list, seasoned with brow-raising choices of covers, as well. 

It’s not everyday that a band, especially with a female frontperson, would dare to put a hand on a Lenny Kravitz’ brazen classic, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” and attempt Eurythmic‘s “Sweet Dreams” in the livelier key of C, rather than in its original salacious D-minor.  Yet, staying true and taking ownership is the winning formula and they nailed them both.
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With that being said, why they would take the metro off the silver track to end with a medley is a mystery. Medleys are more than just risky, they’re a page taken out of the “Book of Bad Ideas.” Sure, risks are always worth taking, especially if you have the solidarity of a substantial band with a definitive chemistry, so I can’t blame them for the attempt. But, perhaps trying to exhibit their dynamic range in a rush at the end of the set may have come across unnecessarily too sales-pitchy.  

Yes, music is a business and sales are vital, no one is denying that. However, just like in any business, if you take care of the product and the people, the bottom line will always take care of itself. Neverwonder not only has a strong product in their sound, but in their own compositions, as well, so why push so hard? In fact, I don’t even think they realize just how much potential they really have! Passionate drive-by rock and soul tunes like “Help Me,” and “Let it Go” are not just songs you would likely to hear on the radio as a refreshing break from the auto-tuned mechanical pop hits that make you want to stick a knitting needle up your nose, but I also could hear them be used for soundtracks. This band's sound would be a perfect backdrop for some hard-time-city-sweat-gonna-make-it “made for TV” drama or for setting the mood on a CSI:NY episode while the team is processing the evidence in the lab. It’s apparent that this little band with a big sound has aspirations to take their career to the moon, but I have to say from what I witnessed, I think it would be a horrible mistake on their part to limit their potential market.

The only elements that I witnessed on this glorious day that I didn’t find so glorious was the guitarist’s “one of these things just doesn’t belong here” physical presentation -- though his style certainly made up for that shortcoming for the most part -- and the very weak attempt at back-up vocals by Vincent Ramos. He may have the right hands and the right fit for his bass, but unfortunately the wrong timing, tone, or capacity to even come close to complimenting a raging river like Alima.   For what they were given to work with, these people worked it. They’ve got some serious skill and a solid set. Now, if they would just stop letting Ted buy his clothes at the local general store, never ever do a medley again, and get few real hip-swinging, roof-raising back-up singers to put some push and polish on that powerhouse and I see absolutely no reason whatsoever in the world why Neverwonder’s wonder couldn’t become a household name. 

Seriously.

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